THE PERFECT SEASON TO VISIT PARIS
THE PERFECT SEASON TO VISIT PARIS
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PERFECT SEASON TO VISIT PARIS AND EXPLORE THE BEST TIME TO VISIT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CAPITAL IN THE WORLD
THE PERFECT SEASON TO VISIT PARIS
Paris is a dream destination for millions of tourists every year. It is a center for hedonists, a source of inspiration for artists, and a sanctuary for history aficionados. Historic bakeries, famous museums, and corner cafes feel like they belong in a another era, but the city’s zeitgeist is leaning toward a vibrant, diverse food scene that is led by up-and-coming French and international chefs. Paris is always the ideal destination because of this contrast between the ancient and the new. Go exploring, get lost, eat till your stomach aches, and then repeat the entire process. It’s the City of Light.
When’s the best time to go to Paris?
You’re likely to be disappointed if you arrive expecting the image of springtime in Paris that you see in Hollywood films. In the last several years, the months between April and June have reported below-average temperatures and record-high precipitation—a far cry from the endless days of sunshine in the movies. The weather is wholly unreliable, which foils many travelers’ ambitions for a dry early-season trip. Late summer and early fall typically yield the warmest sojourns (though the summers in general appear to be getting warmer), plus this is when Paris is most culturally active, unveiling new exhibits and welcoming the return of the some of the most anticipated festivals. December and January provide a more festive experience, with Christmas markets lining the well-heeled boulevards and twinkling lights illuminating the city’s boutiques. All weather aside, there is hardly a bad time to visit Paris, rain or shine.
How to get around Paris
Whether you’re coming from within Europe or from farther afield, when you arrive at either of Paris’s two airports—Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle or Orly—you’re a short train, bus, or cab ride away from the beating heart of the city. The RER B, a regional rail line, is the swiftest way to reach the city center. The Roissy and Orly buses also drop off passengers in prime locations in the city for about $10 to $12. Taxis are convenient, but they can be costly. Plan ahead and try G7 Sharing, which offers bookable, fixed-rate private or shared rides to and from the airport.
There are few international cities as eminently walkable as Paris. When your feet can no longer support your museum- and restaurant-hopping, the public transportation system offers an efficient and user-friendly way to link the city’s many neighborhoods. Buses offer the best view, but le métro is the quickest and most reliable means of getting to and from your destinations. For more detailed info, be sure to download the “Next Stop Paris” app, which is accessible offline. If taxis aren’t viable for your budget, consider day or week passes to tour Paris on two wheels with Vélib, the city’s successful bike-share program.
Can’t miss things to do in Paris
– Whether at the peak of summer or in the moodiness of a winter’s night, nothing elicits a chorus of oohs and ahs like a leisurely after-dinner stroll across the city’s iconic bridges and along the banks of the Seine River. Amble across the Pont des Arts toward the Institut de France and continue along the docks of the river, watching the Bâteaux Mouches glide by and illuminate the river with their lights. Keep wandering until you reach a spot to pause for an unobstructed view of a twinkling Eiffel Tower (every hour, on the hour, after sundown). It’s free and absolutely stunning at all times of year.
– If time allows, you really shouldn’t miss visiting the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and Sacré-Cœur, or taking a stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens.
– Following the devastating fire in April 2019, Notre-Dame Cathedral remains closed for restoration work. Officials have said the forecourt in front of the church could open as early as March 2020, but for now, you’ll only be able to snap a picture from afar.
Food and drink to try in Paris
– It is entirely possible to spend days roaming the marbled halls of the Louvre or walking from one fabled cobblestone street to another, but Paris is, above all, a city for insatiable lovers of wine and food. Mix the classic dining visionaries with the rising influence of young culinary talents, and you’ve got a rapidly evolving, deliriously delicious food-and-drink scene.
– The city’s hottest restaurants tend to have booking systems that are arcane at best and nonexistent at worst, so plan in advance to ensure that you snag a coveted table. Or just pull up a chair at a neighborhood café and watch the world go by.
– When it comes to gratuities: Don’t tip for self-service at counters or buffets; round up to the nearest euro or add a euro on top of the bill when ordering drinks; leave just a few euro for informal fare; and tip around 15 percent at formal restaurants (as long as a service fee is not already included).
Culture in Paris
– Every international city has its iconic landmarks and cultural institutions. In Paris, most travelers would cite the Louvre as the must-visit art stop, but curious visitors should look beyond the usual suspects and explore places like the Musée de la Vie Romantique, the Jewish Art and History Museum, the Cinémathèque Française, and the Fondation Cartier.
– Dive a little deeper into a fascinating chapter of 20th-century Parisian history with a historian-led Context walking tour that focuses on the city’s occupation by Nazi Germany, a time marked by unrest, bravery, and heroism.
– Given the Parisians’ well-documented penchant for celebrating art, culture, and design in all its forms, you can count on a packed schedule of festivals all year long. Whether for a neighborhood street parade or larger-scale happenings like Paris Plage and Nuit Blanche, it’s worth planning your vacation around the city’s celebratory timetable.
Local travel tips for Paris
– Always greet shop owners and restaurant staff with “bonjour” when entering and before asking a question or making a request.
– Avoid restaurants that have English translations printed on the menu or that display multiple flags. Similarly, avoid restaurants with multi-page menus, as the authenticity of the meal may be questionable.
– When metro train cars are crowded, give up your folding seat and stand.
– A baguette is always better with cheese—the older the cheese, the better.
– Do not overlook the city’s farmers’ markets as potential lunch spots.
– Macaron loyalties teeter between Ladurée and Pierre Hermé, so try both and decide for yourself.
– The Champs-Élysées has few redeeming qualities and is considered the Times Square of Paris by locals. Skip it and opt for a bird’s-eye view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
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